This report illustrates why those with access to safe drinking water shouldn’t take it for granted:
Vietnam is a nation crisscrossed by rivers and streams and has one of the longest coastlines in the world: Water is everywhere, yet there is hardly a safe drop to drink, with even much of the bottled water contaminated.
Tran Van Nhi, a scientist at the Vietnam Institute of Biotechnology, told IRIN Hanoi’s water was heavily contaminated with ammonia: “It is 6-18 times higher than the allowed level.”
A small amount of ammonia is not toxic but when it reacts with certain other substances, it can convert to a carcinogen, according to Nhi and other scientists. Nhi also found arsenic levels two to three times higher than acceptable World Health Organization standards.
Most residents boil drinking water as a matter of course, even though high temperatures do not remove arsenic or dangerous heavy metals. …
In June 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 20,000 people living in Vietnam die each year from contaminated water and poor sanitation.